The official website of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) reported this week that Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu had briefly met with President Obama on April 6, 2009 at an official reception in Istanbul. "President [Obama] reiterated to the Secretary General the willingness and readiness of the US Administration to explore areas of cooperation with the Organization of the Islamic Conference," according to the website. In addition, President Obama extended an invitation to Prof. Ihsanoglu to visit the White House in Washington D.C.
We can only hope that Ihsanoglu misinterpreted courtesy expressions on the part of President Obama as an open invitation to visit. Otherwise, Obama must not be reading his briefing books as closely as he should.
In the one-month period before the Istanbul meeting, Ihsanoglu:
- "Called upon Palestinian parties to expedite ... national reconciliation." These parties include the Palestinian terrorist group, Hamas, which is fighting the Palestinian Authority. Ihsanoglu has held a joint press conference with Hamas political director Khaled Mishal, at which he said, "With its win, Hamas begins a new stage in the development of the Palestinian issue. We assure that Hamas will deal with all national and international requirements in a practical and logical way." According to the OIC's 2002 Declaration on International Terrorism, "We reject any attempt to associate Islamic states or Palestinian and Lebanese resistance with terrorism."
- Met with Sudanese President Al Bashir in Khartoum where he "stressed the rejection of the OIC of the double standards pertaining to the issue of justice, particularly in regard to the extradition of those accused of committing war crimes in Darfur." This was in reference to the International Criminal Court's arrest warrant against Al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
- Spoke of "the suffering of Muslims as a consequence of ... defamation campaigns unraveling in the West." The OIC has been a major force behind a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution calling upon member states to provide legal "protection against acts of hatred, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions and incitement to religious hatred in general."
The resolution could make defamation of Islam a criminal offense.
Perhaps the President should plead prior commitments when Ihsanoglu decides to visit Washington DC, and avoid any further direct contact with a leader with such views on free speech and human rights.
"OIC Secretary-General Ihsanoglu Stresses In Gaza The Need For Palestinian Reconciliation"
"Kuala Lumpur Declaration on International Terrorism"
"Ihsanoglu calls for avoidance of double standards in dealing with the Sudanese crisis"
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